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He is a classic exponent of street photography. His photographs of the major cities of the USA are among the most important series in his body of work. He spent most of his time in Minneapolis, the city of his birth, and the “Twin Cities” – Minneapolis and the adjacent state capital of St. Paul – appear as frequent motifs in his oeuvre. He only lived in Chicago from 1989 to 2006, but travelled extensively during that time as well. One of his most admired photographs was made in New York in 1995:

“I remember the phone booth photograph so well. I saw the family by the phone booth as I was crossing the street in NY and I was hoping they would stay together like that as I approached them. I was fortunate to capture that moment. I have always thought this was one of my best New York photographs.” As is so often the case, he was able to create a dense composition of horizontals and verticals, planes and patterns, and likewise one of his favourite preferences for reflections in shop windows and glass panes can be found here, which give his pictures an exciting, additional layer. It is not without reason that his current illustrated book, which was published last year by the French publishing house Atelier EXB, is called American Reflections.

“I’ve taken pictures in about 40 of the American states during my life. I mainly photograph in the western US now. I do return to New York occasionally to take shots there. I am so fortunate to be a photographer. Taking pictures of my culture is a visual journey through my life. Where I chose to photograph, what or who I photograph is all influenced by my life experience. For myself, it goes back to when I was nine years old and looking through our photo albums with my family. I have kept this model for my whole life. I am making and leaving behind a hopefully inclusive family album that portrays the lives of people and their artefacts who let me into theirs for a few moments.” Arndt has used countless Leica cameras and a wide variety of lenses for his work: “I can’t remember all the Leica lenses I’ve owned, but at least 16. I use Leica because they are the best camera, I can use to show the respect for the people I photograph.” (Interview: Ulrich Rüter)

Picture © Tom Arndt (from ‘American Reflections’, Atelier EXB, 2022, www.exb.fr)
Equipment: Leica M6 with Elmarit-M 28 f/2.8 Asph

More images from Tom Arndt’s American Reflections series can be found in issue 3/2023 of the LFI magazine.
© Brigitte Schaller

Tom Arndt

was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1944. He graduated with a BFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (1968), followed by post graduate studies at the University of Minnesota (1969–1971). His work is in the great, classical tradition of American documentary photography, and includes empathetic portraits of everyday people, shop windows and events. A precise, imaginative street photographer, he captures fleeting gestures, chance juxtapositions and special moments between people and their surroundings. His motifs thrive not only on a perfect composition, but also on Arndt’s sense of emotional and psychological depth.
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